By George, he’ll carry on his dad’s legacy in the ring
The percentages were good that there would be another George Foreman in the boxing ring. That’s because the original begat five more. Seven, if you count two daughters.
George Foreman, former heavyweight champion and, at 45, the oldest man ever to win the title, has 10 children, five boys and five girls. All five boys are named George and two of the girls are named Freeda George and Georgette.
Freeda George beat the other younger Georges in the family into the ring. She fought a couple of pro fights until her dad, George, and mom, Joan, threw a white towel into her corner. George made millions boxing and millions more as spokesman for the George Foreman Grill. So he did what any wealthy father would do to a daughter who wanted to punch out other females in public. He paid her to quit.
But now, there’s a new George Foreman on the boxing horizon, and if genes mean anything, we could be a couple of years away from going back to the future.
Newspapers, if they still exist, can dig out the old headlines: “Foreman Wins Heavyweight Title.” Those could be from 1973, when he beat Joe Frazier. Or from 1994, when he beat Michael Moorer, after taking 1977 to 1987 off to become a Christian preacher. The Moorer victory was, astonishingly, nearly 20 years to the day that he lost his celebrated match to Muhammad Ali in Zaire.
The newcomer is George III. He is 26 years old, stands 6 feet 5, weighs 240, and is not likely to be bought out. That’s because George I, despite early misgivings, has bought in.
“Think of it,” he says. “Maybe an American heavyweight contender. Been such a long time . . . “
Before we let George I wax poetically about George III, we must make a stop for clarification. With this family, you need a scorecard to tell the players.
George I, the big guy, turned 60 in January. His journey from Olympic gold medalist to world-renowned boxer, to preacher, wealthy product spokesman and television commentator, is well-documented. That of his children, thanks to their parents’ tendency to stutter when selecting names, is less so.
The five boys are designated both by Roman numeral and nickname: George II is Junior, George III is Monk, George IV is Big Wheel, George V is Red and George VI is Little Joe. George V got his nickname because his parents had decided, after him, there would be no more. He was the ninth child, a stop light for them. Of course, they soon ran their own red light and along came Little Joe.
The girls, in addition to Freeda George and Georgette, are Natalie, Leola and the oldest child, Michi.
The family home is a 40-acre sprawl in the Houston suburb of Huffman. Some 220 miles away is a family ranch in Marshall, Texas.
On boxing, the family deal, according to George I, was that any participation was off limits until a college degree was obtained.
“Boxing is such a hard sport,” says George I. “You punish yourself. You are always up at the crack of dawn, out running, working. If you had 75 friends when you started, you have seven when you are done.”
George III (Monk) went to Pepperdine for two years, then finished at Rice and was so accomplished in business that he took over handling many of his father’s affairs. George I says that George III has always been the brains of the family, the most articulate.
“The girls always thought he was the most handsome too,” says George I, who says there was also an Ivy League side to his second son.
“He was a big lacrosse player in high school, at Culver Academy in Indiana,” George I says. “He’d walk around with that stick all the time. Kind of a geek.”
So, it was with some surprise that George I witnessed George III working out one day in the boxing gym and discovered this was what he wanted to do. Joan said no, unless George I would teach him and train him and make sure he does it right. And George I, who fought 81 pro fights over 350 rounds and remains one of the lucky few who has no side effects, says the brain damage issue is “something you never stop worrying about.”
So a new George Foreman has begun to grace professional boxing rings, even though he graced no amateur rings. It seems that every time a prospective amateur opponent found out he was to face the son-of, he quickly canceled. Soon George I, who fought only a couple of dozen amateur fights before winning the gold in Mexico City, decided his son might as well start as a pro.
At the moment, George III has not yet struck fear in the hearts of the Klitschko brothers. He has fought only twice, on June 6 in Louisiana and July 31 in New Mexico, winning both by knockout. Billboards in the Inland Empire say he will fight again Sept. 10 at San Manuel casino in Highland.
Promoter Roy Englebrecht said Monday that George III’s appearance would be postponed to either Oct. 15 or 22, both Thursday nights, and that the billboards would be updated as soon as a final date is set.
Hours before the postponement was indicated, George I was clear that the Sept. 10 date was problematic, that “the billboards are up, so let’s go, but let’s make it October.”
So it will be. And so, as always in boxing’s most famous Roman numeral family, father knows best.